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Keep Your Heart Healthy This Valentine’s

Heart-health-month-best-chicago-gym-club-studioThis Valentine’s Day, as we celebrate American Heart Month, we want you to think beyond the heart-shaped boxes filled with delectable chocolatey candy treats, over-sized stuffed creatures, and whether or not you have a date (Chicago does seem to have some great singles events on the calendar)…

According to the National Health Institute, coronary heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the U.S. But that’s not meant to bring you down! We want you to be your healthiest and happiest, not just for Cupid’s Day, but every day, so we’ve compiled some tips. Please take them to heart…

Try these tips from the American Heart Association to stay heart healthy by managing stress:

    • Get physical – That’s right. The leading authority on heart health says to get to the gym. Better do it! We know of a good one if you need some ideas…
    • Let go of bad habits – From smoking to over worrying, there’s no time like the present to start fresh.
    • Slow down – Life ain’t a track meet. It’s a marathon. Pace, don’t race.
    • Laugh - Check out Second City. Watch a funny movie. Push someone down (just kidding… but I’ll bet that made you laugh).
    • Sleep - No brainer. Make the time.
    • Get organized – Declutter your mind by cleaning out your inbox, your closet, your fridge. Whatever keeps you up at night.
    • Relax - Deep breaths, my friend. Let go of what you can’t change. It will all be OK in the end. If it’s not OK, it’s not the end.
    • Find pleasure in your everyday life – The sun. White snow. Your family. That donut… Just kidding again!

 

 

Get fit. Union Station Fitness Director, Josh, knows how important this tip is. The heart is a muscle, so it needs to be worked like the rest of them! Cardio, strength training and stretching all improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and stress, and revving up feel-good hormones, helping keep your mood light and your mind clear:

  • Cardio - Walk on the treadmill at an incline if you’re new to exercising, or take it a step further by joining a running club or Spin class
  • Strength - Basic sit-ups, push-ups and body-weight squats are good for beginners, but you can kick it up a notch with a HIIT class or boot camp
  • Stretch: If you’re not Gumby, get in the habit of stretching in the morning or before bed. When you’re comfortable, take up a yoga or Pilates class (which have benefits all their own!)

Yoga and Pilates are good for your body, mind and spirit by helping you gain balance and focus.

    • You’ll live longer – Standing on your head reverses blood flow to the brain, giving you a boost while restoring energy to keep you young!
    • Your risk for diseases (like heart!) decrease – Meditating, focusing on your breath, staying in the moment, all help to relieve stress. Let it all go!
    • Bye bye back pain – Stretching and strengthening your back muscles help to keep you upright with no tweaks. (Listen to your body in class, and don’t overdo if you’re not comfortable)
    • Be happy – Practicing yoga releases serotonin, the “happy” hormone, which also regulates appetite, mood and sleep.
    • Let if flow - Circulation and respiration both improve as you learn to lower your respiratory rate. Better oxygen and blood flow means happy, healthy organs.
    • Yeah baby! – Women who stay fit throughout pregnancy tend to have leaner, healthier, calmer babies.

 

 

You might plan to spend the day with your two greatest loves: and one of them will be food. Registered dietitian, Jessica, suggests sticking to the following to keep your ticker in tip-top shape!

  • Salmon - Salmon contains EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. Eat two servings a week to reap the benefits of lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels.
  • Nuts - In addition to protein, the unsaturated fats found in tree nuts lower the bad cholesterol while boosting the good. An ounce of nuts a day helps relax blood vessels and ease blood flow.
  • Apples - An apple a day keeps the doctor, and heart disease, away! The soluble fiber lowers bad cholesterol.
  • Beans - Besides protein, beans pack a punch in folate, which reduces risk of heart disease.
  • Dark chocolate – Yay chocolate! The flavonoids found in cacao contain magnesium, which is essential for normal heart function.
  • Superstitious? Kick your Valentine’s night into high gear with Maca root, honey, avocado, curry, ginger and parsley! Ask Jessica why at jdogert@ffc.com.

Just because you can have chocolate doesn’t mean you should go overboard… Remember, everything in moderation! Check out Registered Dietitian, Carla’s, nutrition blog for more heart-healthy tips!
Blog courtesy of Allie Kuopus, Social Media and Communications Manager. Contact Allie at akuopus@ffc.com.

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5 Tips for a Heart Healthy Valentine’s

Nutrition-Healthy-heart-best-chicago-gym-club-weight-lossNot only is February the month of love, but it is also American Heart Month. With Valentine’s Day being the candy layover between the winter holidays and Easter, the desire to sugar binge and candy horde is only natural, which makes reconciling Valentine’s Day and healthy Heart Month a difficult task indeed.

1. Whole-grain breakfast: Try cutting out a heart-shaped whole-grain piece of toast or waffle, then top with vanilla Greek yogurt, sliced strawberries and cinnamon.
Heart healthy tip: The fiber in whole grains helps to lower blood cholesterol levels and may reduce your risk for heart disease.

2. Get physical: Couples and families that play together, stay (healthy) together!  Get out and find fun physical activities to share with your loved one(s) such as building a snowman, going skiing or ice skating, and working out.
Heart healthy tip: The American Heart Association recommends that you strive to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day as part of a heart healthy lifestyle.

3. Be Nutty: What better way is there to let someone know that you’re crazy about them than attaching an “I’m nuts for you!” note on a snack bag of mixed nuts? It’s a great way to say something sweet and give your Valentine a healthy treat.
Heart healthy tip: Not only are nuts packed with protein, they are also a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Research has shown that Omega-3 fatty acids may help to decrease the risk of arrhythmias, lower triglyceride levels and slow the growth of atherosclerotic plaques.

4. Sweets for your sweetie: When choosing sweets, opt for a piece of minimally processed dark chocolate.
Heart healthy tip: Cocoa contains compounds called flavonoids that have antioxidant properties. Research has shown that flavonoids may have a beneficial impact on vascular health by improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
Heart healthy tip follow-up: While the flavonoids in cocoa may be beneficial for heart health, excessive fat and sugar consumption can lead to weight gain, which is certainly not heart healthy! To strike a healthy balance, limit chocolate intake to moderate portions (about 1 oz.) several times a week.

5. Fantastically Fruity Snacks: Let your Valentine know that “I’m bananas for you” or that they are “the apple of your eye” because you guys “make such a great pear.” Sounds “plum perfect” to me!
Heart healthy tip: Fruits are jam-packed full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, which studies have shown can work to lower both cholesterol and blood pressure as well as reduce the buildup of plaque in arteries.

Blog courtesy of Carla Schmitz, MS, RDN, LDN. Contact Carla at cschmitz@ffc.com.

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Chicago Sport and Social Club Leagues

Chicago-Sports-Social-Club-Spring-Leagues-best-ymYou’ve been working hard to stay fit all winter. It’s almost time to show off what you’re made of, on the court, on the field or even in a giant plastic bubble!

We are excited to announce that Fitness Formula Clubs is the official 2015 health club sponsor of the Chicago Sport and Social Club! CSSC is the largest organizer of adult sports leagues, social events and tournaments, where 100,000 active, affluent, and connected young professionals play hard and have a lot of fun.

CSSC spring league registration opens this month, so be the first to claim your spot in one of your favorite sports: Indoor VolleyballIndoor SoccerOutdoor SoccerBasketballFootballFloor HockeySoftballKickballBowlingDodgeballBar GamesBubble Ball. Team and individual registrations are available. So sign up soon to meet your new best friends!

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Live to Wynn Lifetime Series

live-to-wynn-best-chicago-gym-club-weight-lossFitness Formula Clubs is the proud sponsor of the Live To Wynn Lifestyle Series. The Art of Sophisticated Living event will take place at Park Hyatt Chicago on Sunday, March 8. This life-changing and opulent experience was created for men and women who desire to live a happier, healthier lifestyle. Participants will learn from the best in the fitness, culinary, wellness and skincare industries how to make themselves a top priority in 2015. Register today and save $24 if you sign up by February 23!

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Team to End AIDS

t2-ffc-triathlon-training-best-chicago-gym-clubCross the finish line to help AIDS Foundation of Chicago provide housing, care and advocacy for the 43,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in Illinois. T2’s innovative coaching program will support you every step, pedal or stroke of the way as you train to finish the race of your lifetime – and raise funds to make a difference in Chicago and across the nation.

Your victory is their victory. Join the T2 family today.

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FREE Injury Screenings

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There are plenty of reasons to see a physical therapist, even if you don’t think you need to. Whether you have a full-blown injury that keeps you out of the gym, or a persistent pain that you’d like to see gone, come to one of the following free screenings, where NovaCare’s expert staff will tell you what’s what.

FFC Lincoln Park: Thursday, Feb. 5, 5:30-7 pm
FFC South Loop: Monday, Feb. 9, 5-7 pm
FFC Oak Park: Monday, Feb. 9, 5-7 pm
FFC Halsted Street: Tuesday, Feb. 10, 5:30-7:30 pm
FFC East Lakeview: Tuesday, Feb. 24, 5-7 pm
FFC Union Station: Wednesday, Feb. 25, 12-2 pm
FFC West Loop: Wednesday, Feb. 25, 4-6 pm

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Dance Your Heart Out

dance-your-heart-best-chicago-group-fitness-exercise-class-gym-clubGroup Fitness Manager extraordinaire, Lois, has put together a special dance class we hope everyone will try! You are welcome to come to any class at any club, even if it’s not your home club! Free for members, $10 for guests. There will even be a sign up for a special spa bonus!

Friday, Feb. 13
FFC Gold Coast – 5:45 pm
FFC West Loop – 6:15 pm
FFC East Lakeview – 6:30 pm

Saturday, Feb. 14
FFC Gold Coast – 11 am
FFC Oak Park – 11:30 am

Sunday, Feb. 15
FFC South Loop – 9 am
FFC Halsted Street – 3 pm

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Prenatal Fitness and Pilates

Prenatal_pilates-pregnancy-fitness-best-chicago-gym-club-studioStaying fit throughout pregnancy and beyond has health benefits not only for mom, but also for baby. Two Certified Prenatal Pilates Trainers from FFC East Lakeview are proud to offer:

  • Prenatal Pilates: Sundays, 11:45 am with Rachel, Pilates coordinator. rsutter@ffc.com
  • Prenatal Boot Camp: Wednesdays, 6pm with Madeleine, personal trainer.  mhart@ffc.com
  • Sign up for 8 sessions: $224 for members, $304 for non-members.

Benefits for mom

  • Staying active and fit in a safe way throughout the duration of pregnancy. Since some modifications need to be made as the pregnancy progresses, as well as after the delivery, it’s most important to Rachel that moms are educated and actively making safe choices through their pre- and postnatal experiences.
  • Keeping moms’ muscles and bodies appropriately balanced, stretched and strong to alleviate some of the aches and pains that come with the major changes happening in pre- and post-natal women’s bodies.
  • Focusing on positions and muscles used during labor and delivery.
  • Another huge benefit of the prenatal group is that it creates a health-focused, non-judgmental community where women can talk freely about what they are going through, share their concerns and ask questions (Rachel says she learns something new in class every week, and her participants do, too!).

Benefits for baby

  • Tend to be leaner – Less body fat, not necessarily smaller
  • Better self-soothers – Less cranky and less likely to have colic
  • Higher general intelligence scores and better oral language skills all the way to age 5
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Pilates Forces Fusion

pilates-fusion-east-lakeview-best-chicago-gym-clubJoin Chicago’s Best Health Club (that’s us!) for a new Pilates boot camp designed to increase your stamina, strength, stability and flexibility!

  • 20 minutes: Pilates on the Equipment
  • 20 minutes: Endurance/Strength Training
  • 10 minutes: Stretch

Wednesdays and Fridays, 6 am. $120 per month once a week, $224 per month twice a week. Contact Justin, hybrid trainer, at jkam@ffc.com and try a complimentary class!

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Member of the Month

member-of-month-all-best-chicago-gym-club-spaCongratulations to Charlie Rice-Minoso, FFC East Lakeview’s Member of the Month! We wanted to know a little more about Charlie, so we asked…

What does membership at FFC mean to you?
A supportive community that supports me and motivates me to achieve my fitness goals.

When at FFC, where can you be found?
In the front row at one of Kelly’s classes or on a treadmill.

What gets you pumped?
David Guetta, Sia, Calvin Harris… anything fast paced with a motivational undertone.

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Everyone’s Training for Something

training-best-chicago-gymEveryone’s training for something, whether it’s your overall health or just being fit enough to catch that darn El. FFC wants to help you get there, and is so confident it can, it offers the Results Guaranteed promise for new and existing members: Try the club or personal training for 30 days, and if you don’t see results, get your money back.

With so many options for fitness and wellness in the Chicagoland area, FFC stands out by being a one-stop shop. Whether you like to work up a sweat or prefer to be pampered, FFC has something for everyone, including staffed registered dietitians, rock climbing walls, unlimited group exercise classes, boxing and martial arts, fully loaded Pilates studios, hot yoga studios, sundecks, steam and sauna rooms, laundry service, a full-service spa, custom airbrush tanning, and one of only two USA Triathlon Certified Training Centers in the Midwest.

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Lose to Win

lose-to-win-weight-loss-challenge-best-chicago-gym-clubIt’s back Jan. 19-Feb. 28!

Includes:

  • A technical shirt
  • Weekly weigh-ins: Attend for entries into a drawing for prizes!
  • One nutrition lecture
  • One strength/cardio workout twice per week
  • 10% discount on fitness services purchased between Jan. 19-25 (after payment of Lose to Win contest is processed)
  • Each club male and female champion will be entered into company-wide raffle for training services!

$49 for members, $99 for non-members. For more information, visit the website.

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Make Your 2015 “Runolution!”

Running-BannerThis new year, resolve to motivate yourself to get outside! While it’s very popular to feel peer pressure to workout indoors at the gym in January as a New Year’s Resolution, try to challenge yourself to run outside more, and reap the benefits of being outdoors! Vitamin D deficiency is a real problem for Chicagoans who frequently deal with commuting in the dark to and from work, rarely seeing the sun during the winter months.

With shortened days, you have to get creative to make the most of your opportunities, so use our tips below to make the most of your winter training!

Committing to a “challenge” is a great way to motivate yourself through the winter, whether it be through an online run-logging competition or an in-person weight loss challenge!

Sign up for a race - Even though the weather is unpredictable, signing up for an outdoor race during the winter can be a fun adventure. If Mother Nature throws a curveball, embrace the winter challenge and simply treat your race as a fun run with no expectations of a finish time. Simply enjoy being outdoors in the middle of the winter (it’s possible, we promise)! Join the FFC RunMonster Running Club at the F3 Lake Half Marathon this January – use our FFC team discount code TRIMONSTER to save $8!

Run with a group – Running with a group is fun and motivating, and breeds accountability to show up! Recruit some friends and you’ll never miss another training session. You can also join FFC’s Running Club, RunMonster for weekly workouts, whether it’s the interval-focused indoor track workouts at FFC Gold Coast every Thursday at 6:30 pm, or the FFC South Loop long runs at 8 am Sundays (followed by the popular BeerMonster Brunch social hours at the Scout Waterhouse). Meet new friends and enjoy the outdoors!

Run during lunch – Get outside during the day when temperatures are warmest and sunshine is brightest (we hope). Simply bring your run gear to work and take a lunch break to run outdoors instead of in! Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day alongside FFC’s Running Coaches for a lunchtime Fun Run Monday, Jan. 19 at Daley Park!

Try an Indoor Tri – If getting outdoors is a challenge, consider simply motivating yourself with a different indoor challenge. Don’t know how to swim? Join FFC’s Swim Technique classes or the FFC Indoor Triathlon Training Program and learn to improve your swimming. Then sign up and compete in the FFC Indoor Triathlon & Duathlon Series, the best indoor triathlon in all of Chicagoland! Even if swimming is not your thing, we have new a duathlon (run-bike-run) and team relay divisions this year, so truly anyone can compete to win prizes. Beginners even get their own award divisions! You never know, you might earn an age group medal while discovering a new passion and hobby!

We hope you can enjoy taking advantage of a few of these tips to make the most of your winter.  Staying motivated and consistent is a great way to avoid cabin fever and breeze through your winter months. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying a great spring running season!

Blog courtesy of Chris Navin, Head Endurance Coach. Contact Chris with questions or for more information about any of the TriMonster programs at endurance@ffc.com.

This new year, resolve to motivate yourself to get outside! While it’s very popular to feel peer pressure to workout indoors at the gym in January as a New Year’s Resolution, try to challenge yourself to run outside more, and reap the benefits of being outdoors! Vitamin D deficiency is a real problem for Chicagoans who frequently deal with commuting in the dark to and from work, rarely seeing the sun during the winter months.

With shortened days, you have to get creative to make the most of your opportunities, so use our tips below to make the most of your winter training!

Committing to a “challenge” is a great way to motivate yourself through the winter, whether it be through an online run-logging competition or an in-person weight loss challenge!

Sign up for a race - Even though the weather is unpredictable, signing up for an outdoor race during the winter can be a fun adventure. If Mother Nature throws a curveball, embrace the winter challenge and simply treat your race as a fun run with no expectations of a finish time. Simply enjoy being outdoors in the middle of the winter (it’s possible, we promise)! Join the FFC RunMonster Running Club at the F3 Lake Half Marathon this January – use our FFC team discount code TRIMONSTER to save $8!

Run with a group – Running with a group is fun and motivating, and breeds accountability to show up! Recruit some friends and you’ll never miss another training session. You can also join FFC’s Running Club, RunMonster for weekly workouts, whether it’s the interval-focused indoor track workouts at FFC Gold Coast every Thursday at 6:30 pm, or the FFC South Loop long runs at 8 am Sundays (followed by the popular BeerMonster Brunch social hours at the Scout Waterhouse). Meet new friends and enjoy the outdoors!

Run during lunch – Get outside during the day when temperatures are warmest and sunshine is brightest (we hope). Simply bring your run gear to work and take a lunch break to run outdoors instead of in! Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day alongside FFC’s Running Coaches for a lunchtime Fun Run Monday, Jan. 19 at Daley Park!

Try an Indoor Tri – If getting outdoors is a challenge, consider simply motivating yourself with a different indoor challenge. Don’t know how to swim? Join FFC’s Swim Technique classes or the FFC Indoor Triathlon Training Program and learn to improve your swimming. Then sign up and compete in the FFC Indoor Triathlon & Duathlon Series, the best indoor triathlon in all of Chicagoland! Even if swimming is not your thing, we have new a duathlon (run-bike-run) and team relay divisions this year, so truly anyone can compete to win prizes. Beginners even get their own award divisions! You never know, you might earn an age group medal while discovering a new passion and hobby!

We hope you can enjoy taking advantage of a few of these tips to make the most of your winter.  Staying motivated and consistent is a great way to avoid cabin fever and breeze through your winter months. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying a great spring running season!

Blog courtesy of Chris Navin, Head Endurance Coach. Contact Chris with questions or for more information about any of the TriMonster programs at endurance@ffc.com.

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Calling All Triathletes!

Indoor-Triathlon-best-chicago-gym16th Annual Indoor Triathlon/Duathlon Series

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newbie who has yet to test the waters, have you ever considered trying an indoor tri? FFC has events spanning four clubs February-March, and a Chicago Championship Final Saturday, April 4. Compete against your friends and fellow athletes to come away as the top individual or team!

If you need help training, we’re here for you. Indoor triathlon-specific training will run January 13-March 7. Attend the informational session Tuesday, Jan. 6 at FFC Lincoln Park, 7:30 pm, visit the website, or contact Coaches Chris and Cassidy at endurance@ffc.com for more information.

National Challenge Competition

Are you a member of USA Triathlon? If not, you can still sign up and join FFC’s team in the National Challenge Competition (NCC)! Get excited to train offseason and log the most miles to win prizes!

  • Log your bike workouts in January and your runs in February
  • Get ranked with athletes in your age group nationwide
  • Win prizes each month and at the end of the competition

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Spin to Break the Cycle 2015

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Going the Distance to Stop Violence. Why Do You Spin?

Join teams and individuals from across the city to come together for a great cause, raising funds for World Sport Chicago, an non-profit organization that teaches positive values and leadership through sport to Chicago’s underserved youth, building stronger, safer communities in Chicago.

Programs that will benefit from this event include:

Nine of your favorite FFC instructors will get your hearts pumping as a live DJ blasts high energy music to keep you inspired on your ride Saturday, April 18 at the House of Blues Chicago! The first workout starts at 8 am, with a new workout every hour through 5 pm. Riders can look forward to massage, pampering and more after you’ve spinned your socks off. And, if you go above your fundraising goals, you could earn exciting rewards like airline certificates, sports tickets or exclusive experiences!

Sign up for your favorite FFC instructor’s team!

  • 8 am: Kandace Kaiser – FFC Union Station
  • 9 am: Bill Bower – FFC Oak Park
  • 10 am: Melissa Gurule – FFC Halsted Street
  • 11 am: Jennifer Dahl – FFC East Lakeview
  • 12 pm: Arthur Reipenhoff – FFC Gold Coast
  • 1 pm: Aaron Foster – FFC South Loop
  • 2 pm: Chris Navin – FFC Lincoln Park
  • 3 pm: Ellyse Kummer – FFC West Loop
  • 4 pm: Aaron Foster – FFC Old Town

If you can’t or don’t want to ride, be a supporter as a member of the FFC Crew! The reception will include a complimentary drink, appetizer lounge, spectator lounge, games, prizes and more! FFC raised more than $160,000 last year. Think we can do better than that in 2015?!

For more details, and to join an FFC team or start your own, visit World Sport Chicago.

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Small Changes. Big Rewards

Nutrition-best-chicago-dietitianHave you ever made a New Year’s Resolution to “lose weight,” “get in shape,” or “be healthier,” only to find that, come February, you’ve reverted back to old habits? You’re not alone. In fact, 88% of Americans who set resolutions fail to make them work. There are are number of reasons why this happens – the resolutions are too lofty, we pick too many, we give up when the going gets tough – but it’s not an inevitable fate. Check out our tips below, and make 2015 the last time “getting healthy” is simply your “New Year’s Resolution.”

Include protein in every meal and snack – Protein helps us feel fuller longer, which helps keep hunger pangs at bay, and ultimately may reduce the likelihood of overeating. Not sure how much to have? A good rule of thumb is to make at least a third of each meal and snack a source of lean protein.

Don’t fear fat – “Healthy” fats, like those found in nuts, seeds, avocados and salmon, not only help to prevent belly fat, but they’ve also been shown to raise “good” HDL cholesterol, lower “bad” LDL cholesterol, boost brain function, and keep the eyes and skin healthy.

Eat breakfast – While every meal is important, breakfast is arguably the most important because of all of the benefits it incurs. Eating breakfast is incredibly beneficial for weight loss because it helps to reduce hunger throughout the day, thereby preventing overeating. Eating in the a.m. has the added bonus of revving your metabolism back up to speed after being slowed overnight during sleep. Additionally, starting your day with a healthy breakfast has been shown to increase concentration, help stabilize blood sugar, boost energy levels and improve memory.

Shop the perimeter – What do candy, soda, juice, chips, snack cakes and other highly processed foods have in common? Other than being unhealthy, they can all be found in the center of the grocery store. Foods that are perishable – think fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and dairy – are located around the perimeter of the store due to their need for refrigeration. These foods are typically healthier than their “convenience food” counterparts in the middle aisles.

Cut out soda – The average American drinks more than 38 GALLONS of soda per year, which contributes enough calories to cause a weight gain of more than 16 pounds! Cut it out of your diet and you’re well on your way to a healthier body.

Drink more water – What will you drink if you can’t have soda? Water is your best bet. Adequate hydration is one of the best things you can do for you body. It’s necessary for almost all components of proper physiological function, including digestion, waste and toxin removal, nutrient distribution throughout the body, temperature regulation and brain function. The optimal amount varies person to person, but generally speaking is roughly half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day.

Watch your portions – Our perception of proper serving sizes is often skewed by restaurants’ giant portions, or confused by the food industry’s labeling practices. It’s no wonder portion control is challenging for many of us. Next time you’re preparing food, use measuring cups and spoons to dole out servings so you can begin to retrain your brain to eat more appropriate amounts. Still feel like you aren’t eating enough to be satisfied? Try using smaller bowls, plates, and cups, which will make you feel like you’re getting more, even if you aren’t.

Get some sleep – Like breakfast, water and many of the other things mentioned above, sleep is crucial for a healthy body. One of the main reasons adequate sleep is vital from a weight loss perspective is for its ability to regulate appetite. When we get fewer than seven hours of sleep, two important hormones, ghrelin and leptin, are thrown out of balance, resulting in increased hunger and decreased appetite control. In addition, lack of sleep can increase insulin resistance and stress hormone levels, which can also be detrimental to weight loss and overall health.

Blog courtesy of Carrie Linke, MS, RD, LDN. To learn more about FFC’s nutrition services, contact Carrie at clinke@ffc.com.

 

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Winter Group Fitness Schedule

Pound-Best-chicago-group-fitness-class-gym-clubA new season calls for a new schedule, wouldn’t you say? We’re mixing it up with a new winter schedule starting Monday, Jan. 5. You can search by specific club, instructor or even class to find out when and where your favorites will be next. And don’t forget to program all of these into your FFC app so you never miss another opportunity!

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FREE Injury Screenings

8-novacare-best-chicago-gym-physical-therapyThere are plenty of reasons to see a physical therapist, even if you don’t think you need to. Whether you have a full-blown injury that keeps you out of the gym, or a persistent pain that you’d like to see gone, come to one of the following free screenings, where NovaCare’s expert staff will tell you what’s what.

FFC East Lakeview: Wednesday, Jan. 21, 5-7 pm
FFC Halsted Street: Tuesday, Jan. 20, 5-7 pm
FFC Lincoln Park: Tuesday, Jan. 6, 7-9 am
FFC Oak Park: Monday, Jan. 12, 5-7 pm
FFC South Loop: Saturday, Jan. 17, 10 am – 12 pm
FFC Union Station: Wednesday, Jan. 21, 12-2 pm
FFC West Loop: Wednesday, Jan. 21, 6:30-8 pm

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New Staff

New-best-personal-training-chicago-gym-clubWelcome Nathan Spring, our newest personal trainer! Nathan hails from Georgia, where he attended the University of Georgia for Theatre. As an FFC member, he worked with a personal trainer before he even knew he wanted to become one, and kept working alongside his trainer while studying for his NASM certification.

Nathan’s background is almost entirely in martial arts. He studied fencing and gymnastics as a child, and for the past two-and-a-half years has been studying Chinese wushu (Kung Fu). Learning wushu was what really ignited his passion for fitness.

A self-proclaimed superhero nerd, Nathan tries to incorporate that into his training. Everyone should to try out the Superhero-themed workouts at FFC East Lakeview! Nathan’s goal is to become superhuman, and to pass his powers on to others. The two parts of his job that he loves the most are meeting and learning about new people, and helping people to learn new abilities/reach new levels of strength.

Also, he can vibrate my eyes, which, let’s face it,  is kind of a superpower on its own.

To set up your complimentary 30-minute consultation with Nathan, contact him at nspring@ffc.com.

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Indoor Cycling Chicago Time Trial Cup Series

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Fitness Formula Clubs and TriMonster Triathlon Training introduces The Chicago Time Trial Cup, open to any and all avid cyclists! This three-event winter indoor cycling race series* will feature time trials of various distances and courses. Sign up for one, or sign up for all three for the chance to become the overall series champion!  All you need to do is bring you, your bike**, and your personal best!
*All events will be held at the FFC Lincoln Park Endurance Training Center.
**You must bring your own bike to each event. Renting a space at FFC Lincoln Park is $25/month for members and $50/month for non-members.

Choose from one or all of the following events*:

Sunday, Jan. 25 - Draft-legal 20 km Road Race: Men’s and women’s heats of eight will race in “drafting mode” to mimic the benefits of drafting in an outdoor race.

Sunday, Feb. 8 - 2-person TimeTrial: Grab a partner for a short-distance race against the clock. Both teammates must cross the finish line. The second finisher’s time is the team’s time. No partner? No problem, we’ll find you one.

Sunday, March 8 - Individual 20 km Time Trial: Ride fast, friends!
*Participants will sign up for waves throughout the day of each event. Anticipate at least 1.5-2 hours per race. Parking will be validated for up to 2 hours, so plan accordingly. Avoid parking fees by leveraging free nearby street parking. $40 per event.

For questions or to sign up, contact Coach Dan Dziubski at ddziubski@ffc.com.

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FormuLife Rx

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Fitness Formula Clubs is proud to announce FormuLife Rx, The HealthyCare® Lifestyle Prescription! This comprehensive multidisciplinary behavior modification program is designed specifically for the medical community to support efforts in treating obesity and unhealthy patient populations. The program is facilitated by a team of nutrition and fitness experts, and incorporates a technology platform to journal progress, track results and create multiple sources of engagement.

We don’t doubt each of us has a loved one who has been affected by obesity and is searching for answers. Until now, the medical community has been ill-equipped to provide long-term solutions for patients who suffer from diseases linked to obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes are just some of the ailments that we know can be greatly improved through proper diet and exercise.

FFC is committed to changing lives and we are asking for your help! Contact Medical Services Director Bob Nagy for more information or questions at bnagy@ffc.com.

 

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Keep on Giving

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Now through Wednesday, Dec. 24, purchase $100 in FFC Gift Cards and receive a $25 bonus gift card*! Gift Cards are good toward any FFC product or service, but may not be applied to FFC membership dues. Purchase your gift card at your club or online.
*Maximum 3 bonus cards per person. Restrictions apply.

 

Year-of-wellness-contest-prize-win-best-chicago-weight-loss-gym-club

Year of Wellness

Year-of-wellness-contest-prize-win-best-chicago-weight-loss-gym-club

November kicked off our Third Annual Year of Wellness (YOW) Contest! New entries will be accepted until Monday, Dec. 15 at ffc.com/year-of-wellness, then voting will open through the end of the month. Nominate yourself, a friend, a coworker or a loved one to win one year’s worth of health and wellness, complete with personal training, Pilates training, nutrition consulting, massages, Ortanic tans and more! This year’s prize package, with additional goods and services from our sponsors, is valued at more than $15,000. Non-members welcome!

FFC’s first YOW winner, Quinetta Taylor, entered the contest after already starting her journey to weight loss. As someone suffering from chronic kidney disease, she was too overweight to be eligible for the Illinois state transplant list. At the end of her year, she had lost 120 pounds, and was placed on the list. She approaches fitness and nutrition with vigor, and is a champion for organ transplant education. Her kidney should be coming any day.

Last year’s winner, Dawn LaFleur, was nominated by her daughter after losing 100 pounds through nutrition alone. Now she understands the benefits of fitness for a well-balanced approach to overall health and well-being. Dawn and Quinetta have become friends and can often be found working out together.

To enter, visit ffc.com/year-of-wellness now through Dec. 15 to submit your story and tell everyone why you (or your someone else) deserve a year’s worth of wellness. On Monday Dec. 15, all eligible nominees will be posted, and you can begin collecting votes by sharing your story. Tell everyone you know to vote for you or your nominated friend. The top five most voted-for entrants will then go on to be decided upon by our panel of judges, our sponsors. The 2015 Year of Wellness winner will be announced in early January. Good Luck!

 

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Healthy Holiday Rewind

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“Detox” the Right Way

It’s the Monday morning after Thanksgiving. After the holiday weekend of a few (okay, A LOT) of overindulgences, you are feeling bloated and sluggish. You are contemplating a detox…

While nutrition is all the rage, detox cleanses are far from rage-worthy. Drop 10 pounds in 2 weeks without lifting a finger! Really? Do you want to feel hungry, irritable and moody? I doubt it! Your body needs to avoid these extremes!

Sure, detox diets may sound promising due to the copious amounts of produce they require to ingest. However, they lack the essentials your body needs to function at its full capability.

FFC friends, we challenge you to “detox” the right way. Incorporate one (or all!) of the foods listed below into your well-balanced meal regimen to help you recover from that ‘White Castle’ stuffing and 3rd slice of pumpkin pie.

Besides tasting downright delicious, here’s what these unique superfoods have to offer:

Organic Kale: This “queen of greens” is your best friend after a weekend of overindulgences.

  •      Meet nature’s cleanser. Kale is loaded with sulfophanes, which help bind to toxins and amp up your body’s natural detox power.
  •      While detoxes leave you feeling drained, greens do the contrary! Two cups of kale provide 10% of your daily energy-enhancing iron needs, and 14% of your daily magnesium needs. This perfect pairing provides you with a calm vivacity to help you get through your day with ease.
  •      BONUS: As if you needed more reason to get your green on, dark leafy green veggies boost that memory of yours, so you’ll be able to recall how you felt after last weekend’s indulgences and make better food choices at your next Holiday feast!

Organic Quinoa: This super-seed contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein!

  •      While detox diets cause you to feel famished 24/7, this super-seed increases your feeling of fullness. High-quality protein is slow to digest, controlling that ravenous appetite of yours!
  •      BONUS: Protein has a high thermic effect. Simply put, thermic effect is the amount of calories burned while digesting food. WAIT. We burn calories just by eating? Yes, we do. Burn, baby, burn!

Organic Sweet Potato: One medium sweet potato provides 27% of your daily potassium needs.

  •      That sodium-laden green bean casserole may have seemed harmless at the moment, but you are certainly paying with lethargic bloat now.  Thankfully, potassium-rich foods help to balance sodium levels in your body and reduce all of that water retention. Buh-bye bloat!

Organic Asparagus: This crunchy, slightly sweet herb provides 67% of your daily mood-boosting folate needs.

  •      Detox diets leave you grouchy, whereas these green spears leave you in a cheerful, upbeat mood!

Organic Pineapple: This sweet, tropical fruit is a dual dose of dietary dynamite.

  •      While those holiday treats were nutritionally void, this fruit (nature’s candy!)  provides you with nutrients needed to recoup. Pineapple allows you to get the most out of your food. Here’s why: it contains a unique enzyme called bromelain, which improves digestion. Proper digestion will lead to proper absorption of the nutrients in the superfoods you eat, leaving you feeling amazing!
  •      Feeling puffy? Luckily, this juicy gem decreases bloating due to its 85% water content. De-puff that gut with this natural diuretic.
  •      BONUS: High water content foods may help you naturally avoid hundreds of calories per meal. Effortless weight loss, baby!

Organic Raspberries: These red rubies contain 9 grams of berry-licious fiber per cup.

  •      Did your Thanksgiving dinner cause you to go over your allotted calories? Most likely. According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American will consume more than 4,500 calories on turkey day. Turn to fiber and wrap your brain around this concept… for every gram of fiber we consume, we eliminate 7 calories. Mind blowing!
  •      Point to Ponder: By savoring 1 cup of raspberries, which contains 9 grams of fiber, you effortlessly eliminate 63 calories. One cup a day for seven days a week equates to 441 calories eliminated. Potential weight loss without even trying?! Count us in!

Organic Beans: These underrated superfoods are one of the most concentrated food sources of the mighty mineral molybdenum.

  •     Guzzle one too many Hard Cider Sangrias? Bean there, done that. Luckily, molybdenum activates the detoxifying enzyme needed to metabolize those adult beverages and get them out of your system!

Organic, Raw Apple Cider Vinegar: This superfood elixir satisfies and stabilizes.

  •      While a detox leaves you voracious, vinegar promotes satiety. Friends, we let our bellies do the talking around here! When they are content, so are we.
  •      Detox cleanses often lead to instant blood sugar spikes and crashes, leaving you craving more hours later, whereas vinegar is proven to stabilize that blood sugar. Stabilized blood sugar steadies mood, energy levels and controls cravings. Triple threat!

Blog courtesy of Fitness Formula Clubs Registered Dietitian Jessica Dogert RD, LDN, CPT. Contact Jessica at jdogert@ffc.com.

 

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Holiday Spa Specials

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Book an appointment to try our FFC Signature Massage today! Seventy five minutes of expert therapeutic relaxation that includes scalp and facial massage, and a customized treatment that will take away all of your aches, pains and cares. This is a one-of-a-kind spa service that you can’t experience anywhere else! Special price: $100 during December only!*
*See spa desk for details. Not valid with other offers. Spa packages are non-transferable.
Special pricing ends 12/31/14

Holiday Spa Gift Suggestions*  

    • Santa’s Little Helper: 30-minute massage AND facial – $125
    • Winter’s Dream: 60-minute massage AND facial – $175

*BONUS: Get a FREE $25 gift card when you spend $100!

Purchase any skin or massage package and get 20% off of an item from our body or skincare collection.*
*Offer valid on day of purchase only. Not valid with other offers. See spa desk for details.

Check out this month’s Spa Blog, courtesy of Regional Spa and Retail Director Lisa Ellis.

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Running News

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Here are some tips to keep you running strong through the cold winter months in Chiberia!

Stay Motivated
Set a goal or challenge with friends. Writing down a goal or using online tools to track your runs and progress are great ways to stay motivated. Or try the new FFC Winter Run Challenge (details below)!

Embrace The Darkness
Truth be told, there’s less daylight in wintertime. Leaving the office at 4:30 pm and going out for an after work run can be slightly depressing! Take into consideration that the sun starts to come out anywhere between 6:30-6:45 am. Running in the afternoon might be a better option, if that’s an option. If, however, your only free time is in the evening, then take advantage of well lit streets that are frequented by others, to help void bad footing or ice.

Get the Right Gear
Do not wear cotton. It kills an athletic performance by soaking up your sweat and keeping you cold! Reward yourself for your dedication by purchasing some nice new winter running gear, you serve it. A high quality wool base layer, wind resistant tights, gloves and a high performance winter running jacket are must-have tools to keep you running all winter long. You’ll also benefit from added motivation to make use of and enjoy your new gear!

Consider using the Runner’s World Weather Gear Tool to help you remember what type of gear to wear based on the weather conditions! If you are a part of the Winter RunMonster challenge and complete your 100 miles in 100 days, you receive a free RunMonster beanie!

VO2 Max Test
The human body is like a furnace. You can stay warm in almost any conditions, as long as you’re working hard enough. But how long can you maintain the necessary level of activity? Take advantage of the 100 Mile Challenge’s free free VO2 Max Test. Knowing your VO2 Max, you will be able to stay out in the cold conditions for longer (and often wearing less) than the rest of us.

Take it Inside
If the roads are covered with ice, it’s better to work out inside, rather than take the risk of hurting yourself with a nasty spill. Running on a treadmill instead has many advantages. Not only is it wise to make the move inside to prevent injuries, it can also aid in more effective recovery. Training in extreme elements takes a lot more out of you and delays recovery time. Other forms of activity that are equal to helping you stay in shape include the elliptical, stair machine, or you could even “run” in deep water for the same amount of time that you would be spending running free. These are great ways to keep up your level of training without an injury.

Find Stable Footing
Look for snow that has been packed down – it will provide better traction. Fresh powder snow might be hiding ice patches! Wearing the proper footwear, or even adding spikes, is a good option, especially if you’re hitting up icy hills. You might also want to stay on a road that’s been frequented by other runners so the snow is good and packed.

Buddy System
Exercising with a friend is a great way to keep you from blowing off a workout. If someone is relying on you to show up, it may be your incentive to get out there and brave the rough conditions. Running with a regularly planned group on weekends keeps you upbeat and motivated by something to look forward to, not to mention you are safer in numbers. Winter RunMonsters gather for brunch to refuel after every 8 am Sunday long run. We hope to see you there!

Blog courtesy of Coaches Chris and Cassidy. Contact them at endurance@ffc.com with questions or to sign up for one of the following programs.

 

Winter RunMonster
Getting motivated to run outside in subarctic temperatures can be tough… but not with friends by your side! Sign up for the 18-week winter training program, starting Monday, Dec. 1, geared to get you ready for spring’s destination races, including the Los Angeles Marathon March 15.

You will participate in weekly indoor interval track workouts at FFC Gold Coast, Thursdays, 6:30-7:30 pm, and weekly outdoor long runs meeting at FFC South Loop, Sundays, 8 am. In addition to these two weekly runs, one weekly HIIT class at FFC Lincoln Park’s Performance Training Center is included. Those who sign up can also look forward to nutritional sessions with our registered dietitians, select race discounts and an FFC winter cap.

100 Days. 100 Miles*
Take the winter running challenge and and win great prizes! Increased running frequency can improve your performance, not to mention your mood, in the dreary winter months. Whether you run on your own, or as a member of FFC’s RunMonster or TriMonster Endurance groups, sign up, log your miles and earn incentives to keep you motivated! From 100 miles to 100 runs in 105 (close enough) days, hit the pavement (or treadmill) and watch your fitness increase as the pounds do the opposite! The challenge begins Monday, Dec. 1.
*100 Days 100 Miles is a subset challenge of the Winter RunMonster program. You can participate in both, or just one, for your winter training. Email Coaches Chris or Cassidy at endurance@ffc.com for more information

 

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Holiday Hours

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From all of us at FFC to all of you, thank you for such an amazing year! We hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have. Have a safe, fun, warm holiday season!

Wednesday, Dec. 24
All clubs close at 5 pm

Thursday, Dec. 25
Oak Park: 7 am – 1 pm
East Lakeview, Gold Coast, Halsted Street, Lincoln Park, South Loop, West Loop: 8 am – 2 pm
Old Town, Union Station: Closed

Friday, Dec. 26
All clubs open at 6 am

Wednesday, Dec. 31
All clubs close at 7 pm

And a Happy New Year!

Thursday, Jan. 1
East Lakeview, Gold Coast, Halsted Street, Lincoln Park, Oak Park, South Loop, West Loop:    7 am – 3 pm
Old Town, Union Station: Closed

Friday, Jan. 2
East Lakeview, Halsted Street, Oak Park, South Loop, West Loop: Open at 4:30 am
Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, Old Town, Union Station: Open at 5 am

 

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FREE Injury Screenings

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There are plenty of reasons to see a physical therapist, even if you don’t think you need to. Whether you have a full-blown injury that keeps you out of the gym, or a persistent pain that you’d like to see gone, come to one of the following free screenings, where NovaCare’s expert staff will tell you what’s what.

Thursday, Dec. 4 – FFC Oak Park: 5:30-7 pm
Tuesday, Dec. 9 – FFC West Loop: 5:30-7 pm
Wednesday, Dec. 17 – FFC Lincoln Park: 8-9:30 am
Wednesday, Dec. 17 – FFC Old Town: 5:30-7 pm
Thursday, Dec. 18 – FFC Halsted Street: 5:30-7 pm
Monday, Dec. 22 – FFC East Lakeview: 5:30-7 pm
Tuesday, Dec. 30 – FFC Union Station: 11:30 am – 1 pm
Tuesday, Dec. 30 – FFC South Loop: 5:30-7 pm

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Your Baby Body

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Learn what you need to know about fitness and nutrition before, during and after your pregnancy for optimal health from prenatal certified experts including Madeleine Hart, personal trainer and mom, Rachel Sutter, Pilates instructor, and Carla Schmitz, Registered Dietitian. This seminar will offer tips and advice, as well as cover all of FFC East Lakeview’s offerings for pre- and post-natal athletes. Saturday, Dec. 6 12:30 pm. Contact Madeleine with questions and to sign up at mhart@ffc.com.

 

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Fitness Career Open House

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Are you looking for a career in Fitness? We would like to invite you to stop in and learn more about working with us! FFC Union Station is hosting a Fitness Career Open House on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 4-8 pm.

Fitness Formula Clubs has nine locations throughout Chicago and Oak Park, and will be opening a 10th club in Park Ridge next fall. We also manage four clubs. With more than 1,000 employees (and growing!), FFC is great place to start or continue your career!

Our Fitness teams will be conducting interviews, meet and greets, and tours of the club that evening. It will be a great way to get your foot in the door! Please invite fitness industry family and friends to come along. This event is open to anyone interested in becoming a Personal Trainer, Pilates Instructor, Group Fitness Instructor or Fitness Specialist. If you’re not certified, don’t worry, we have programs for that.

To apply for our openings, please visit www.ffc.com/careers. For more information, contact resume@ffc.com.

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Year of Wellness is Back!

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November kicks off our Third Annual Year of Wellness (YOW) Contest! Entrees will be accepted beginning November 15 at ffc.com/year-of-wellness. Nominate yourself or a friend, non-members welcome, to win one year’s worth of health and wellness, complete with personal training, Pilates training, nutrition consulting, massages, Ortanic tans, and more! This year’s prize package, with additional goods and services from our sponsors will be valued at $15,000.

FFC’s first YOW winner, Quinetta Taylor, entered the contest after already starting her journey to weight loss. As someone suffering from chronic kidney disease, she was too overweight to be eligible for the Illinois state transplant list. At the end of her year, she had lost 120 pounds, and was placed on the list. She approaches fitness and nutrition with vigor, and is a champion for organ transplant education. Her kidney should be coming any day.

Last year’s winner, Dawn LaFleur, was nominated by her daughter after losing 100 pounds through nutrition alone. Now she understands the benefits of fitness for a well-balanced approach to overall health and well-being. Dawn and Quinetta have become friends and can often be found working out together.

To enter, visit ffc.com/year-of-wellness on November 15 to submit your story.  On Monday, Dec. 15, all accepted nominees will be posted and you can begin collecting votes by sharing your story. Tell everyone you know to vote for you or your nominated friend. The top five most voted-for entrants will then go on to be decided upon by a panel of judges made up of our sponsors. The 2015 Year of Wellness winner will be announced in early January. Good Luck!

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The Gift of Giving

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Beginning Thursday, Nov. 6 and ending Wednesday, Dec. 24 – purchase $100 in FFC Gift Cards and receive a $25 bonus gift card*! Gift Cards are good toward any FFC product or service, but may not be applied to FFC membership dues. Purchase your gift card at the Club or online.
*Maximum 3 bonus cards per person. Restrictions apply.

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On Being Grateful

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Calling All Athletes
Improve your athletic performance, posture, form, range of motion and more with therapeutic massage. FFC therapists specialize in Sports, Deep Tissue and Myofascial techniques. Save $10 off a 60- or 90-minute Sports or Deep Tissue massage in November!
*May not be combined with other offers. Other restrictions may apply.

Invest in Yourself
Purchase a $100 FFC Spa gift card and get $25 to use on yourself. You deserve it!

Veteran’s Appreciation
We thank all active and veteran military for for your service. Present your valid Military ID and receive 25% off any spa services. Offer valid through Sunday, Nov. 30*.
*May not be combined with other offers. Other restrictions may apply.

For more information, visit the Front Desk or book Spa services online here.

On Being Grateful

Before long, we’ll find ourselves scurrying around the grocery aisles fighting for the last cans of cranberry sauce and picking through sad heaps of herbs and spices for homemade stuffing. Then, of course, there’s the inevitable waiting “forever” on line while flipping through OK! Magazine for the 30 minutes it takes to get up to the clerk because “some lady” took “Extreme Couponing” to a whole. ‘nother. level.

But hold on for just one second. Before the complaining begins and the stress of hosting the in-laws takes over, maybe just take a short pause to remember what you’re thankful for.

It can be tough to do, yes. Too often, we’re so caught up in the grind of our day-to-day, and the annoyance that is our job, our spouse, the wind, etc, that it’s hard to find gratitude for anything at all. Need some help? Breathe in, and picture the things that enrich your life. If you’re still coming up short, here are a few of the random things I am grateful for. Maybe one or two might resonate for you:

Mom & Dad, Sister & Brother. Yeah, I know it seems like the obvious choice. But how often do we take family for granted? I’ve always been very close with my zany and wonderful parents and siblings and as an adult, like many, I now appreciate them even more. Last year when my mom was diagnosed with Leukemia (she was victorious!), the hugs got a little tighter, the calls more frequent, and the laughter much, much louder and from a deeper place. We relish our time together and I can’t wait to spend Thanksgiving with them.

Wine. OK, it’s out there. I like my wine. Like a trusted friend, my Cabernet (or maybe a Meritage tonight?) is there for me in good times and in marginal times. She (yes my wine is a girl) warms my soul, enhances my dreams, and for a fair price, she’ll takes my cares away. We’re close, me and my wine, but don’t worry, we’re not so close that I’ll be writing my next blog from Shady Wines – Home For Winos. ;-)

My Dog. Suzy (“The Noodle)” has blessed our lives in so many ways since the day we took her home from the shelter 3 years ago. Every day she makes me laugh with just a little look or turn of her head to the sound of the word “treat” and the way she flutters her paws in synch when I dare to stop petting her. She’s got living down-pat; eating, sleeping, running, getting massaged. The only job she has is as my canine alarm-clock and she never fails to deliver.

My Legs. Maybe it sounds weird to you, but I’m pretty thankful to have these two imperfect limbs that walk and run me all around this city, through airports, to friends’ outings, to the beach, and on my many travels. If you’ve ever had a leg or foot injury, or perhaps something even more debilitating, you know what I mean about the freedom of doing it on your own without any devices.

My iPod. When I was little, my Dad would play Peter Tosh, Stevie Wonder, or The Who at an alarmingly loud volume for a Sunday morning. Just to get us out of bed. By the time I turned 10, I had adopted his habit (payback’s are a you-know-what), and not only was I playing several instruments, but learned how to get my music volume up to an 11! Rock n Roll, Jazz, Blues, Reggae, Indie, Classical, any genre save Country (sorry folks), and I’m captivated by the sounds and nuances of the notes and how they band together to form a tune. Nowadays If I leave the house forgetting my iPod and/or headphones, a rush of anxiety spills over me. How will I get through this work (interchangeable with: run/flight/ride/project/cooking/nap, etc)? Can’t function without the iPod. No sir.

This list not relevant to you? Not surprising….it’s mine! Why not go and make your own list, even if you don’t actually write it down. Taking the time for this exercise in gratitude may be the stress-break you need to see just how much good there is in the world.

Happy November!

Guest blog courtesy of Lisa Ellis, Regional Spa and Retail Manager. Email Lisa at lellis@ffc.com.

Ortanic-best-chicago-tanning-salon-spa

Autumn Glow

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The leaves are turning orange… but your skin should not! Get a perfect, custom, autumn glow with Ortanic! For a limited time only: Two custom airbrush tans + one bronzer or extender for just $100 (reg. $136)*.
*Offer valid through Nov 30! May not be combined with other promotions or discounts. Non-transferable and may not be shared.

Call or visit your favorite Ortanic location for more information or book your appointment now.

FOODS FOR HEALTHY SKIN

We have all heard the saying “you are what you eat.” That’s never been more true than it is today. With the chemicals found in and amount of processing of many shelf foods, our bodies’ organs are at risk for crisis. Skin is the body’s largest organ, so it is imperative to keep it as healthy as possible. Remember, you excrete toxins through your skin, so if you put non nutritious foods in your belly, when you sweat they come out only to sit directly on your skin!

Here are some yummy foods that do a great job of protecting skin from premature aging and promoting a healthy glow from the inside out.

Green Tea - Green Tea is filled with the amazing antioxidant EGCG, which provides protection from the sun’s damaging rays. Whether you apply it directly to the skin or drink a nice cup of tea, its antioxidants work to prevent DNA damage and help repair existing damage. Drinking green tea is also hydrating, one of the most important factors for healthy, glowing skin.

Yogurt - Yogurt is a great source for vitamin A, which is very important for maintaining vibrant skin. Vitamin A helps the body produce collagen, which is responsible for your skin’s elasticity.

Salmon - Salmon contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which help protect your skin from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation. Wild salmon contains an antioxidant called astaxanthin that helps fight wrinkles and sagging.

Kiwi - Kiwi is one of the most potent sources of vitamin C. It is essential for maintaining connective tissue. Kiwi, papaya and guava are all excellent sources of collagen producing vitamin C. Eating one kiwi a day can improve your skin over time.

Dark Chocolate - Surprise! Dark chocolate is actually good for your skin. There is a myth that chocolate causes adolescent acne. Not true! When eaten in moderation, the flavonols in dark chocolate not only protects the heart and blood vessels, but also protects the skin from sun damage. When applied directly to the skin, natural cocoa butter is an excellent emollient that helps preserve the skin’s moisture and elasticity.

It’s never too soon, or too late, to start eating well!  Try incorporating a few, or all, of these foods into your diet and see how incredible your skin will look. Then stop into Ortanic and we’ll give your healthy skin a healthy glow!

Blog courtesy of Kat Maj, Ortanic Coordinator. Contact Kat at kmaj@ffc.com.

 

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How Sweet it Is

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Sweet Potatoes, Sweet Health Benefits

As it starts getting colder, and we exchange our bathing suits and sundresses for sweaters and winter coats, it’s easy to put on a few pounds to stay warm. This autumn, plan to maintain your weight while consuming delicious fall produce, and do it on a somewhat of a budget. During the autumn months, sweet potatoes are growing abundantly, meaning they might be less expensive than usual.

This fall, get your fill of sweet potatoes by baking them whole for a healthy dinner side dish, or thinly slice, drizzle with olive oil and spices, and bake them to make healthy homemade potato chips or fries. You can also dice them to increase the nutrient quality of any dish, so add them to soup, chili or breakfast casserole regularly.

Why are sweet potatoes so beneficial to our health? For starters, their deep orange color means they contain large amounts of beta-carotene, an antioxidant, which the body converts into Vitamin A, an essential nutrient. And the nutritional perks don’t stop there!

Vitamin A: Beta-carotene is naturally converted to vitamin A in our bodies, which supports our vision, bone and tooth growth, and immunity. Vitamin A also contributes to healthy, bright skin. Cook sweet potatoes with a little bit of unsaturated fat, such as one teaspoon of olive oil, to better absorb this fat-soluble nutrient.

Vitamin C: This vitamin helps break down the foods we eat, as well as supports nerve cell maintenance and immunity.

Fiber: The high content of fiber in sweet potatoes (six grams per medium potato) helps regulate our digestive tract and blood sugar levels. Adults need 25-35 grams of fiber per day to maintain these health benefits.

Not only are sweet potatoes delicious, but also tremendously good for you. Be sure to add this nutrition-packed vegetable to your next dinner or Thanksgiving celebration to gain these sweet health benefits!

Contact Amy Silver, RD, with any questions or for recipe ideas.

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Thanksgiving Hours

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Wednesday, Nov. 26

  • All clubs close at 8 pm

Thursday, Nov. 27

  • East Lakeview, Gold Coast, Halsted Street, Lincoln Park, Oak Park, South Loop, West Loop: 7 am – 2 pm:
  • Old Town, Union Station: Closed

Friday, Nov. 28

  • All clubs: 7 am – 6 pm

Saturday, Nov. 29

  • All clubs resume regular hours
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All Things Running

Winter running - Young woman running outdoors on a cold winter day

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Winter RunMonster

Getting motivated to run outside in subarctic temperatures can be tough… but not with friends by your side! Sign up for the 18-week winter training program geared to get you ready for spring’s destination races, including the Los Angeles Marathon March 15.

You will participate in weekly indoor interval track workouts at FFC Gold Coast, Thursdays, 6:30-7:30 pm, and weekly outdoor long runs meeting at FFC South Loop, Sundays, 8 am. In addition to these two weekly runs, one weekly HIIT class at FFC Lincoln Park’s Performance Training Center is included. Those who sign up can also look forward to nutritional sessions with our registered dietitians, select race discounts and an FFC winter cap.

The 18-week RunMonster winter training program starts Monday, Nov. 10. Email Coaches Chris or Cassidy at endurance@ffc.com for more information.

100 Days. 100 miles

Take the winter running challenge and and win great prizes! Increased running frequency can improve your performance, not to mention your mood, in the dreary winter months. Whether you run on your own, or as a member of FFC’s RunMonster or TriMonster Endurance groups, sign up, log your miles and earn incentives to keep you motivated! From 100 miles to 100 runs in 105 days, hit the pavement (or treadmill) and watch your fitness increase as the pounds do the opposite!

TOP 10 FFC MARATHON COACH POST-RACE TIPS

Have you recently completed a marathon or major running event?  Wondering what to do next?  As you recover from the amazing feeling of your achievement, take in a few tips from your FFC Endurance Running Marathon Coaches. Having completed more than 250 marathons combined, they have learned a thing or two about bouncing back from a marathon. So read up and enjoy some fantastic tips that will help you avoid feeling like this, or especially this.

    1. HYDRATE
      Hydrating after your marathon is just as important as before and during the race. Continue hydrating two to three days days after you cross the finish line with a greater volume of electrolyte-rich drinks, like coconut water and fruit smoothies, to help your muscles relax and recover. Your metabolism will be elevated for days following a race, and you need to match this with elevated hydration. Make improving your daily hydration a year-round habit to avoid cramping up once you return to a regular running routine, too!
    2. STAY ACTIVE
      Keep moving early and often. If you have a job that involves sitting down for extended periods of time, as many of us do, take frequent breaks and walk around your workplace to stay loose. If you have to sit for extended amounts of time, be sure to massage your leg muscles while you sit, and dorsiflex (point toes up) your feet and ankles while sitting to stretch out your calves!
    3. EAT HEALTHY
      Eat whole food. Reward yourself with treats for a day or two, but then shift to rewarding yourself with some high quality foods. Make sure you have substantial amounts of protein (ideally lean, like chicken and fish), quality carbs and some healthy fats ( a.k.a. put guacamole or avocado on everything!). Your muscles will need to rebuild for several days, and with proper nutrition you may be stronger in a few weeks than you have ever been. Always aim for nutrient dense, electrolyte heavy, antioxidant rich foods to help your body return to a proper recovered state. Need more nutrition tips? Consider joining FFC’s Nutrition Solutions program!
    4. ACTIVE RECOVERY
      The best way to recover quickly is to engage in low impact exercise this week. Walk the long way from home/work/the train, do a yoga or Pilates mat class you’ve always wanted to try, hit the FFC pool (whether to swim laps or do a water jog) or join a spin class (keep the intensity low, cadence high, and hydrate well before, during and after!). Cycling is one of the greatest ways to increase bloodflow to the same muscles you used while running without the impact, so long, easy bike rides with low resistance and a high cadence are a fantastic way to bounce back quickly! Find a new yoga, Pilates, and Spin classes at Fitness Formula by visiting ffc.com/group-fitness
    5. FOAM ROLL & MASSAGE
      Foam roll as a form of self-massage and do light stretching, and/or get a massage at the FFC Spa (if you show your race bib, you even get a discount!). Just be careful not to abuse yourself too hard as your muscles repair – use the softer white foam rollers instead of the hard black ones.
    6. RICE
      Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. Treat your body post-marathon like you’d treat yourself post-injury and give yourself proper rest. Ice your joints or take a cool bath (aim for 10 minutes or less at 50-60 degrees). Elevate your legs on the couch. Wear compression socks or sleeves at night or when traveling, and you’ll wake up feeling much better. Compression is a proven recovery method, so embrace it (even if it’s not a great fashion accessory)!
    7. REMEMBER THE DAY
      If you recently completed a major milestone, jot down some notes to remember the day. While the images and emotions are fresh, write them down in a race report. Even if you never share them, you may be thankful years from now when you want to remember the day, and photos just don’t do the day justice. You can also learn from both success and failure, so record what you did right or wrong with your nutrition, pacing and gear, and record any data from heart rate monitors – you’ll be able to use all of this to run your next race stronger and smarter! Facebook is a great tool for this but also consider websites like athlinks.com or bibrave.com to aid you in finding a place to write down your race reports.
    8. GIVE THANKS
      If you raised money for charity, or had friends or family supporting you to your milestone, be sure to thank your donors and support team. Share photos on your favorite social media channels, and even ask for more final donations to support the great cause you ran for. It’s never too late to thank others, and the upcoming holidays are the perfect time! Consider giving thanks with an FFC gift card this holiday season and motivate your supporters to join you in training for your next endurance challenge!
    9. RUN AGAIN – SLOW AND SMART!
      After a few days off, plan your return to running – but start gradually!  “So when can I start running at 100% again?” you may ask yourself. The standard response is one day per mile raced, but that is not a golden rule for all. For first timers, you may want to be more conservative, particularly if you have any nagging pains. Veterans have more experience, and can listen to their bodies to know the right time and right intensity level.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Either way, don’t start back up with intense “race-pace” efforts of 6+ miles. Start from scratch with two to three mile runs that are two to three minutes per mile slower than your race pace for the first week before gradually ramping back up. Plan a gradual “Return to Running” program of no more than three-mile runs at minutes per mile slower than usual the first week, and each subsequent week add one mile and erase one minute per mile from your pace until you return to your normal pace. Use this opportunity to educate yourself to run smarter, not harder. You can even revamp your running form with technique instruction, guidance and coaching from FFC’s Endurance Running Coaches throughout the fall and winter by attending the FFC Running Club’s weekly RunMonster indoor track workout at FFC Gold Coast every Thursday at 6:30pm. Visit ffc.com/endurance or contact endurance@ffc.com for more information.
    10. PICK YOUR NEXT EVENT
      Once you have recovered for at least three weeks, consider taking advantage of your newfound fitness level by testing your legs with a shorter distance race like a fall or winter 5k. Avoid falling off your training routine or hitting post-race blues by signing up today! This will keep you motivated for the future, whether weeks or months away. Pick a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot or Winter Fun Run. It doesn’t even need to be a serious event or attempt at a personal best, just pick something fun to look forward to!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         After signing up, consider getting back on track with a steady training routine. If you need motivation and encouragement, consider social group training programs like FFC’s TriMonster Endurance Training Club, whether it’s the next season of FFC’s Winter RunMonster or a TriMonster triathlon training program. Maybe even consider learning to swim and train for the upcoming FFC Indoor Triathlon and Duathlon Series!

Use these 10 tips to recover smart and stay motivated, and you’ll soon be on your way to achieving your next great fitness milestone!

Blog courtesy of Chris Navin and Caeser Kinnier.

Coach Chris is Head Endurance Coach of Fitness Formula Clubs, a 10-time Ironman, and a Level II Certified Coach for USA Triathlon.  Chris is also a sub 3:30 marathoner with 19 marathons including 7 Chicago marathons under his belt.  You can follow Coach Chris’ and FFC’s endurance training club online at twitter.com/trimonsters and fb.com/trimonsters

Coach Caeser is a 3-time Ironman and 46-time marathoner. He is a Head Running Coach for Fitness Formula Clubs and TEAM TO END AIDS (T2) and a Marathon Maniac, completing upward of 13 marathons in less than one year!

More Post-Marathon Tips:

T2 Informational Sessions

Join T2 for two Q&A sessions to learn more about the team and run training opportunities!

  • Monday, Nov. 10: 4:30pm-5:30pm at FFC Union Station
  • Wednesday, Nov. 12: 5:30pm-6:00pm at FFC South Loop

For more information, contact Coach Cassidy at endurance@ffc.com.

 

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FREE Injury Screenings

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Do you have an injury that pops up now and again, or a persistent pain that won’t go away? Stop by one of Fitness Formula Clubs’ following locations for a complimentary injury screening, courtesy of NovaCare.

Tuesday, Nov. 4: West Loop 5:30-7 pm
Wednesday, Nov. 12: Lincoln Park 10 am-12 pm
Wednesday, Nov. 12: Old Town 5:30-7 pm
Monday, Nov. 17: Halsted Street 5:30-7 pm
Wednesday, Nov. 19: East Lakeview 5:30-7 pm
Thursday, Nov. 20: Union Station 11 am-1 pm
Thursday, Nov. 20: South Loop 5:30-7 pm

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Fit Fido

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As another Midwest winter looms, threatening to cut walks short and turn Fido’s poor feet into frozen little pawsicles, finding ways to keep your pooch active can be tough. That’s why we’ve partnered with K9 University, Chicago’s daycare, boarding and activity center, for a fun fitness event that is not to be missed!

Sunday, Nov. 16, 12-2 pm*, members and non-members are invited to K9 University for off-leash and agility play, Doga (dog yoga), canine massage, veterinary expertise, natural dog food samples, vegetarian people food treats and more!
*Interested humans without their own means of transportation will meet at either FFC Halsted Street, South Loop or Old Town at 11:30 am. K9U will provide vans for the dogs.

All dogs MUST be registered in advance with up-to-date vaccinations provided from your veterinarian. No drop-ins allowed. Register by Saturday, Nov. 15. Limited space available.

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Pool Closing

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FFC East Lakeview’s pool will be closed Saturday, Nov. 15 – Sunday, Nov. 23 for cleaning and additional repairs. All Aquatics programs, including HydroFit, Aqua Zumba, Hydro Pilates and Swimming lessons, will be cancelled. FFC East Lakeview members are welcome to use the pools at Gold Coast, Lincoln Park, West Loop, Union Station or Oak Park during this time. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause as we work to improve our facility to better meet the needs of our members. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this pool closure, please contact the General Manager, Jason Hammers, at jhammers@ffc.com.